Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database
By JOHN MARKOFF and EDWARD WYATT
Google plans to begin converting the holdings of leading
research libraries into digital files that would be
the operator of the world’s most popular Internet search service, plans
to announce an agreement today with some of the nation’s leading
research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their
holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web.
It may be only a step on a long road toward the long-predicted global
virtual library. But the collaboration of Google and research
institutions that also include Harvard, the University of Michigan,
Stanford and the New York Public Library is a major stride in an
ambitious Internet effort by various parties. The goal is to expand the
Web beyond its current valuable, if eclectic, body of material and
create a digital card catalog and searchable library for the world’s
books, scholarly papers and special collections.
Google – newly wealthy from its stock offering last summer – has agreed
to underwrite the projects being announced today while also adding its
own technical abilities to the task of scanning and digitizing tens of
thousands of pages a day at each library.
Although Google executives declined to comment on its technology or
the cost of the undertaking, others involved estimate the figure at $10
for each of the more than 15 million books and other documents covered
in the agreements. Librarians involved predict the project could take at
least a decade.
Because the Google agreements are not exclusive, the pacts are almost
certain to touch off a race with other major Internet search providers
Like Google, they might seek the right to offer online access to library
materials in return for selling advertising, while libraries would
receive corporate help in digitizing their collections for their own
“Within two decades, most of the world’s knowledge will be digitized and
available, one hopes for free reading on the Internet, just as there is
free reading in libraries today,” said Michael A. Keller, Stanford
University’s head librarian.
The Google effort and others like it that are already under way,
including projects by the Library of Congress to put selections of its
best holdings online, are part of a trend to potentially democratize
access to information that has long been available to only small, select
groups of students and scholars.
Last night the Library of Congress and a group of international
libraries from the United States, Canada, Egypt, China and the
Netherlands announced a plan to create a publicly available digital
archive of one million books on the Internet. The group said it planned
to have 70,000 volumes online by next April.”
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